e-Learning Days

Classroom Instruction Continues with “e-Learning Days” During School Closures Due to Inclement Weather
Posted on 02/25/2019
e-Learning Graphic

Robbinsdale Area Schools has implemented school-board approved e-Learning Days for the 2018-2019 academic year. In the event of school closure due to inclement weather, learning expectations for all students continue through e-Learning activities, which count as student contact days.

“Our curriculum department, principals, teachers and staff worked diligently to ensure success with our implementation of e-Learning Days,” said Dr. Carlton D. Jenkins, Superintendent of Robbinsdale Area Schools. According to Dr. Jenkins, “Robbinsdale Area Schools families demonstrated patience and flexibility as we provided technology-based learning opportunities for our students during our recently implemented e-Learning Days.”

The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) outlines how Minnesota school districts can implement e-Learning instructional days (MN statute section 120A.414). According to the statute, “e-Learning Day” means a school day where a school offers full access to online instruction provided by students’ individual teachers due to inclement weather.

“Our school district, and many surrounding districts, have had to cancel several school days due to the extremely cold temperatures and wind chills we experienced recently,” said Dr. Lowell Holtz, Director of Operations and Student Safety. “Student safety is paramount. Offering students the ability to continue learning at home allows us to ensure student safety and continue instruction, ” he said.

Learning opportunities may be a combination of online and offline activities, guided by district teachers. “Teachers can work with our tech integration specialists to design and implement assignments using our current software systems to ensure consistent quality in student instruction,” said Melissa Davey, French and English language teacher at Robbinsdale Middle School. “We can take what we are working on in the classroom and apply it online by designing coherent instruction,” she said.

The learning activities provide a pathway to academic progress and knowledge for students as classroom instruction continues. They also provide an accountable means for students to show learning. According to Dr. Stephanie Burrage, Assistant Superintendent, “per Minnesota statute, attendance is taken on e-Learning Days, students are required to complete and turn in assignments, and teachers are required to grade materials.”

Technology is a vital tool for students to be career, skilled trades and college ready. The district has one-to-one student to device (Chromebooks) access for grades 4-12, and uses technology to deliver more personalized learning for students. The use of wifi hotspots can also ensure equitable access to technology. “The number of students without tech access has been significantly reduced from five years ago,” said Mrs. Davey. “Also, there is the opportunity for students to complete assignments later if there were technology-related issues, and we can submit an attendance correction,” she said. Moreover, if a student forgets their Chromebook at school, assignments can even be accessed and completed using a mobile app for cell phones.

For staff, review and refinement is also part of e-Learning activities.“E-Learning activities do take more planning,” said Mrs. Karrin  Kearns, reading and English teacher at Robbinsdale Middle School. “You have to plan your lesson almost backward as well as be very intentional and reflective of where students might struggle. It can be very challenging, but also very rewarding as we see residual impacts.”

One of those impacts is increased communication with students and families outside of school. E-Learning (in a way) forced students to be in contact with me and they became comfortable with it. Students continue to be engaged in their class projects because of the transformation of bringing learning into their home,” Kearns continued.

During a Professional Development Day on Tuesday, February 19, Mrs. Davey, Mrs. Kearns and Mrs. Kari Maryn presented a learning activity to staff in the style of online learning. Fellow teachers worked through the learning module about reading decoding and fluency, and had a similar experience to that of an e-Learning activity for students.

More information about Robbinsdale Area Schools e-Learning Days plan can be found here.